The Lincoln Star from Lincoln, Nebraska on April 24, 1994 · 39
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The Lincoln Star from Lincoln, Nebraska · 39

Lincoln, Nebraska
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 24, 1994
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SPORTS E SUNDAY, APRIL 24. 1994 fr A '( ,' BY STEVE SIPPLE 4 Lmooln Journal-Star emerge MIKEBABCOCK Sports ; Freshman proves he's NU's No. 1 Lawrence Phillips was the last player to come to the South Stadium varsity lounge for interviews following the Nebraska football team's annual Spring Game. The freshman I-back showed up. after everyone else had gone, carrying two pens. His white football pants were marked, generously, with black ink from those pens. He had spent the better part of a half hour immediately following the game signing autographs. : Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium, kids, especially, in the . crowd of 28,999, were requesting autographs from any muscular young male, near the field, who looked like a football player. But it's reasonable to assume by the end of Lawrence Phillips the game, they knew who Phillips was, if not by name then by his No. 1 jersey. Phillips rushed for 156 yards on 16 carries, mostly against the No. 1 defensive unit to lead the Red team to a 43-19 victory. Spring game facts, however, aren't particularly significant. The most accurate way to assess Phillips' performance was to listen, carefully, to what Coach Tom Osborne had to say about it r Osborne was asked if there were questions regarding the I-back position because of Calvin Jones' early departure for the NFL. Although there were those who would have Saturday (some fans can be quick to discard yesterday's stars), Osborne did not respond with: "Calvin who?" But he was enthusiastic about Phillips, in his typically understated, if not unenthusiastic, way. "I didn't see many questions he (Phillips) cant answer, today." Osborne said. That's about as ecstatic as Osborne gets. A Barry Switzer equivalent, for example, would have been something like: "Woooeee, that Phillips is incredible. He's another Mike Rozier, only better. He'll win the Heisman Trophy if the voters stay sober." Phillips has shown the potential to be as good as any I-back NU has had, Osborne said, returning to his more reserved mode. But "he still has to stand the test of time." , Assuming he remains healthy, and doesn't declare for the NFL draft in the immediate future, there is no good reason to think that the 6-foot, 200-pound Phillips wont stand the test of time. A couple of his runs Saturday were of highlight film quality. The best, to an untrained eye, was probably a 19-yarder that set up the first touchdown of the second half, when he put a hand down and kept his feet and broke through several frustrated defenders. Phillips is fast, with good balance. "He's strong," said freshman Mike Minter, NU's No. 1 strong safety. "It's hard to square up on him. He'll slide off you. You've got to grab him and pull him down. You're not going to put your shoulder into him. The best thing is probably to get an angle on him." - Phillips returned the compliment Even though the offense seemed to dominate most of the game, "I dont think anybody is going to run through our defense," he said. He, however, did. It was appropriate that on the day before the NFL draft Phillips would perform as he did. Last year, Derek Brown (who was busy signing autographs on the sideline Saturday) left early for the NFL and Nebraska had Jones. Now. Jones is leaving for the NFL and the Cornhuskers have Phillips, as well as Damon Benning. Clinton Childs and Marvin Sims. Oh yes, and Brian Knuckles, a highly regarded junior college transfer, scheduled to arrive in the falL . Osborne said the other I-baeki shouldnt be ignored, that praise for Phillips shouldnt detract from what they've accomplished this spring. Nebraska appears to be well-stocked at the positioa ; Few programs, particularly those so dependent on an I-back, could lose a player of Jones' ability and re- niain optimistic , t "It's too early to compare this guy , (Phillips) to Rozier Osborne said. "He's got to show us some things over a period of time, like hanging in there with the program, doing the right things. i "But he could be pretty good." Pretty good? Consider the source. L 'a p " Nebraska Coach Francis Allen set the 1994 NCAA team title trophy on the table and smiled. "There's the trophy. You'd think as light as it is. it would be a little easier to win." he said. For Allen and his men's gymnastics team, the last three years have shown that earning the national team title was a difficult chore. So Nebraska went to war Saturday afternoon in an atmosphere that Allen compared to "a trench," The Huskers came out on top. producing 288.250 team points to win the school's eighth team title before a crowd of 2.286 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, v -; ' , Stanford, the team champion the last two years, finished second at 285.925. and Ohio State was third at 285.025. , , , - . Nebraska's team total was the second-highest mark in school history and the third-highest score in the 52-year history of the NCAA meet "If we wouldn't have kept the pressure on the other teams, you never know what could have happened." Allen said. "I wish I knew what the formula was. because I'd whomp it on next year's team." Next season's Nebraska team will be devoid of four seniors who arrived the year after the Huskers won their last team title, in 1990. They finished seventh at nationals as freshmen before ending as runners-up to Stanford the last two seasons. "We've had some rough times, but I'll cherish' this the rest of my life." said Nebraska senior Burkett Powell. So will classmates Che Bowers. Sumner Darling and Dennis Harrison. Each of the seniors played significant roles in the title run, but Harrison was this sport's version of his team's "go-to" guy this weekend. He won the NCAA all-around title with 58.20 points Friday night and came back Saturday afternoon with a score of 58.425, leading the Huskers in four of the six events and scoring no lower than 9.60. "There was no doubt in my mind I could go out and do better today," Harrison said. "I still had more to i ft. J 1:1 - a if' I Vj " n . "6 ; Y I WW tr. 'I .is 9 M iC V i t A Members of the Nebraska men's gymnastics team celebrate Saturday after winning NU's eighth NCAA team title. bAIL I-OLD A, LINCOLN JOURNAL-STAR HCAA TEAM FINALS Nebfaska 288.250 Stanford 285 925 Ohio Stale 285.025 give. After all. this was the title Harrison had said he wanted most. "I'll compete in the all-around as long as I want, or at least until 1996," he said, referring to the Olympic Games in Atlanta. "But this is the last team I will compete on." His classmates came through, too: Bowers was the sixth and last Husker up on the pommel horse and tied the school record with a 9.90. Darling was the Huskers' leadoff man in four events, scoring no lower than 9.30 and producing a 9.625 on the still rings and a 9.725 on the high bar. . Powell, a Lincoln High graduate, competed in five of the six events and averaged 9.57. Despite the Huskers' efforts, they were in second place after four events. But at that point, neither the leader, Ohio State, nor third-place Stanford had competed on the vault. Nebraska finished up on the parallel bars and high bar. "We knocked it out (on those two events), and it was history." Allen said. Husker sophomore Jason Christie scored a career-high 9.725 on the pan allel bars, and Harrison tied his career best with a 9.9 as Nebraska produced a season-high team score of 48.75. just .05 off the school record. Nebraska then stuck routine after routine on the high bar en route to a 48.625 total. Christie, a Lincoln High graduate, led the way with a 9.825. Please see GYM on page 4E i -111 &mm I - i '"' m 't."'lj VS' V VI 1 . a Generally spealdng,NU does it all, does it well BY KEN HAMBLETON Lincoln Journal-Star TEO KIRK LINCOLN JOURNAL-STAR A passel of defenders is needed to bring down Nebraska I-back Lawrence Phillips (1) Saturday during the Huskers' annual Spring Game. Phillips rushed for 156 yards on 16 carries to lead the Red team to a 43-1 9 victory. Scrappy Huskers fall just short Sometimes you have to read between the lines to understand football coaches. It's an easy guess what was meant when Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne finished his post-Spring Game press conference with "We did it all and we did well. We have to find a good holder." Not a quarterback. Not a new offensive scheme. Not drastic changes in the defense. A holder for place kicks. In other words, things look pretty good for Nebraska football in Osborne's eyes. "Offensively, this was the best day of the spring." he said. . "My impression is we have a chance to have a better team coming up than what we had last year (11-1, Big Eight champion and No. 3 in the final poll). "That may not translate into a better season. A lot will depend on the next three months hitting the weights and getting into better condition-Nebraska's offense responded with a flurry of yards and touchdowns for the crowd announced at 28,999 Saturday in Memorial Stadium. Freshman I-back Lawrence Phillips dazzled the crowd, and quarterback Tommie Frazier bedeviled the defense for the first time this spring as the Red team (top offense and second-team defense) outscored the White team (the top defense and second-team offense) 43-19. "I suppose we're game players," said Phillips, who rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown against the No. 1 defense. "The offense gets all. hyped up when a crowd comes and maybe the defense wasn't as hyped." After dominating during spring practices. Nebraska's defense found itself grabbing at Phillips as he sped through the line, broke tackles and pounded out runs of 32 and 22 yards in the first half and runs of 15, 15 and 19 yards in the second half. Frazier. not wearing a protective green shirt (meaning hands off the quarterbacks) also exploded, with 153 yards passing and 40 yards rushing, while backup quarterbacks Brook Ber-ringer threw for 78 yards for the Red team and 106 yards and a touchdown for the White team. "It was important for us to have confidence going into the fall and to end the spring on a high note," said Frazier. The change in the Nebraska offense was obvious to the defense. The Red offense drove 62 yards in eight plays to score on the opening drive. Phillips carried four times for 46 yards and Frazier scored on a 6-yard keeper over right tackle. "Frazier without the green jersey makes the offense a whole different team," said White team rover Mike'Minter. "The offense was just great all day and they caught the defense on the downside." The No. 2 offense (Whites) struck for a 51-yard touchdown pass from Berringer to speedy Riley Washington. However, the Red team answered with a short scoring drive highlighted by runs of 6 and 1 yards by I-back Damon Benning, Please see SPRING on page 6E BY CURT MCKEEVER Lincoln Journal-Star Kansas looked mad. Nebraska definitely got angry. What's that mean? Simply that for the first time this season, the Corn-husker baseball has lost two in a row at home. Much like Friday's 13-inning loss to the Jayhawks, the Cornhuskers fell behind early in Saturday's game at Buck Beltzer Field and rallied before coming up on the short end of a 9-7 decision to the zOth-ranked Jayhawks. "It's not fun. not something you like to do every day." NU Coach John Sanders said of playing from behind. "Our team's done a great job of doing it (but) catchup gets old after a while." Kansas jumped to a 7-2 lead by rocking starting pitcher Jeff Strasser for 11 hits in 3t innings. But Nebraska's frustration didn't peak until the fifth inning. After Darin Erstad singled in a run to make it 7-4, cleanup batter Matt McKay was ejected by home plate umpire Randy Bruns for making a comment to him after being called out on strikes. After Kansas starting pitcher Clay Baird (4-2), avoided fur ther trouble by getting Alvie Shepherd to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice with runners at first . and second, NU first base and pitching coach Paul Meyers was tossed for arguing with Bruns. The Jayhawks then scored what turned out to be the decisive runs in the sixth inning when reliever Chris Bauer uncorked a pair of wild pitches. Without them, Kansas probably wouldn't have scored in the inning and the teams might have played their second straight extra-inning, contest. Please see NU on page 3E AIQantM W L 31 31 29 29 26 17 12 13 13 13 13 1B 23 32 BISECT Standings Com. w L Oklahoma State 17 6 Oklahoma 13 8 Kansas 13 9 Missouri 9 8 Nebraska .. 10 9 Iowa Stale 6 13 Kansas Slate 3 18 Saturday' results Kansas 9. Nebraska 7 towa State 2-7. Briar CMf 0-2 Kansas State 16, Oklahoma 14 Oklahoma Slate 16-11. Missouri 6 13 Sunday's game Kansas at Nebraska Oklahoma at Kansas Stale Oklahoma State at Mtssoun Hockhjrst at tows State (DH) Tuesday's gum Kansas State at Northern Iowa Craghton at Missourt Oklahoma State at Kansas Garter turns bad break into bad news for rest of AL TORONTO (AP) - Joe Carter might want to send a thank-you card to Minnesota pitcher Scott Erickson. Carter, who suffered a fractured thumb when he was hit by an Erickson pitch In spring training, used a slightly cut-down version of his normal swing to nit a two-run home run and drive in three runs Saturday as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-6 for their sixth straight win. The three RBI gave Carter a major league-lead- H Yankees' O'Neill making point. Paga 2E. ing 27 for the month, surpassing his club record of 25 last April "If anything, Erickson might have done me a favor." Carter said. "The broken thumb made me cut down my swing and forced me to be a bit more selective. I'm stm not 100 percent But at this rate, I'm not sure if I want to be.". Carter's eighth home run of the season, which tied him with teammate Carlos Delgado for the American League lead, followed a bunt single by Paul Molitor in the sixth. "That wasnt an easy pitch to get down," Carter said of Molitor's textbook bunt "It was high and tight and be could have easily put it foul or sent it back to the pitcher. But he put it in a perfect spot Al Leiter gave up five runs on eight hits over 6H innings. He struck out seven and walked five. a n Piatkowski named MVP PHOENIX - Nebraska forward Eric Piatkowski. who averaged 22 points per game on 57 percent field goal shooting, was named the most valuable player of the three-game 1994 Nike Desert Classic tournament that ended Saturday. The tournament allowed 40 top college seniors to show their skills for general managers and scouts from all 27 NBA teams. The 6-foot-7 Piatkowski scored 26 points, including three three-pointers, and pulled down five rebounds for the Midwest squad in Saturday's consolation game. He earned a $1000 NBA leather jacket for being voted MVP of the tournament Bill Fitch, a former Boston Celtics coach, told the Arizona Republic t Friday that Piatkowski reminded him of a Celtics superstar Larry Bird. . "I dont think anybody would argue that he's got NBA shooting skills, that he shoots well on the move." Fitch I said. "He runs the court a lot like Bird. ; His character and the way he carries himself I cant help feeling I've seen that somewhere." ; Q '. 4

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